A Parent’s Guide to Early Applications

Early Bird

The college application process can be a long, daunting task. There are forms which need to be filled out, exams for your child to take, and a significant amount of financial aid paperwork.

Just like any long task, the earlier you start your work, the easier it will be. Not only that, but starting the college application process early on with your children gives them the best chance of being awarded scholarships, grants, and other assistance with paying for college.

The best thing you can do for your child is to get them into advanced placement (AP) courses throughout their high school career. Colleges weigh the difficulty of courses heavily in their decision-making process.

Make sure your child takes entrance exams early. Whether you choose to have them sit for the PSAT, SAT or ACT, the sooner this is done, the more options you will have. The SAT can be taken in both the student’s junior and senior year. Then, your child will get to declare the higher of those two grades as their score. That greatly improves their chances of doing well.

Over 400 colleges offer the possibility of early admission. This can be especially useful if your child’s first choice of university is one of these institutions. That way, you will know the decision of the admissions committee early. If there is little chance of attending that school, there will still be time for your child to get into another school.

One drawback to doing this this way is that financial aid paperwork may not be back to you before the school makes their decision. If you go this route, you should be prepared to finance college expenses, even if your desired aid package does not materialize.

Something to watch for are early action decisions. This offers you and your child the best of both worlds. Provided you provide all the needed paperwork to the college on time, they will make an early decision. But, if admission is offered, the student will have a significant amount of time to commit to attending there. You and your student may be limited to applying to just a certain number of schools under this system.

Even if your family is using the regular admissions process, applying early will help ensure that you do not miss deadlines. This is one of the worst mistakes to make.

Whichever system your family is using to apply to college, apply early, and get paperwork together well before it is needed. This can serve as a useful lesson for your child on getting work done before it is due.

Another advantage to having your college application papers created and delivered early is the quality will be better than it would be, if produced at the last minute.

It can be a challenge to get most teens to do work, especially well before it is needed. But, as a parent, you can help give your child a better education if you make them work on their applications early.

Bobby Touran is the founder and CEO of ApplyKit. ApplyKit helps students manage their entire college application process and also provides key resources to help them excel every step of the way.